In Allentrepreneur’s latest, discover how Rob Walling, a veteran software entrepreneur, paved his way towards micropreuneurship, his advice for those who aspire to break free of the traditional work ethos, and his newest project: The Micropreuneur Academy. Read on!


Allentrepreneur: Hi Rob! I recently got acquainted with your blog, Software by Rob, and had a seriously fun time perusing it. Could you tell us about yourself?

Rob Walling: I’m a web developer and Serial Micropreneur based in Fresno, California. I followed a typical developer career pattern until the last 3 or 4 years when I began building and acquiring software products and websites.

My blog has followed my career from corporate developer to consultant to Micropreneur. These days I write about Micropreneurship, microISVs, software startups, becoming a better developer and other topics that interest developers and tech entrepreneurs.

I also run an online academy for one-person software companies called the Micropreneur Academy that’s become quite popular – it’s even reviewed Bob Walsh’s new book, The Web Startup Success Guide.

I’m re-opening the doors for new enrollments this week, in fact. If readers are interested they can visit for a video walk-through of the Academy and to lock in a discount by signing up for the pre-launch mailing list.

Allentrepreneur: There seems to be a motto you enjoy passing around your blog: Launch Your Product. Quit Your Job. Care to explain the what and why?

Rob Walling: I’ve noticed an undercurrent among developers who are tired of working jobs they hate, and who have made the decision to pursue something bigger. I’ve gone through this thought process and realized how many developers feel the same way.

“Launch Your Product. Quit Your Job.” has become a mantra for describing how these developers feel, and to provide motivation to keep us all going during those long nights before a product sees the light of day.

It’s also a mantra I used subconsciously when I was still a salaried employee looking to break free.

Allentrepreneur: You label yourself a Serial Micropreneur, or a one-person software business advocate. Just to name a few, you own an invoicing system, an online beach towel shop, and a software consulting firm. Moreover, you state that you’ve automated them to the point of autopilot. Sounds like a comfortable place to be. How did this all come about?

Rob Walling: I use the term Serial Micropreneur to describe an entrepreneur who crafts a lifestyle through a portfolio of one-person technology businesses (MicroISVs, SaaS websites, e-commerce sites, etc…).

I became interested in one-person technology businesses after I had a child and realized I wouldn’t be able to put in the 70 hour weeks necessary to do a big-bang startup. But I’ve always the burning desire to be an entrepreneur.

So in 2005 I built and launched my first web application, and acquired two more over the next two years. But owning a product (or three) is more time consuming than you think, and you soon wind up with too much work and not enough income to support the work.

After reading the 4-Hour Workweek I realized the key was automation and outsourcing, so I spent the next 3 years figuring out the best way to do that. Along the way I’ve bought and sold several online businesses, always keeping the most profitable and least time consuming.

Allentrepreneur: You have a great post titled “The Single Most Important Career Question You Can Ask Yourself”. In it, you make the difference between a consumer (one who hoards knowledge just for the pleasure of it) and a producer (one who hoards knowledge in the hope of one day creating something). Although you state both are fine, how would you counsel a producer to escape this potentially infinite loop?

Rob Walling: I think it should be an infinite loop, actually. You can’t produce without consuming something. The Beatles didn’t write their music in a vacuum; they had a myriad of influences. So it goes with creating anything.

But the key is to consume only what you can synthesize. There’s a huge difference between reading 100 blog posts and turning the information in those posts into something actionable. I know when I’ve drifted into consumer mode by the fact that I’ll read for an hour (whether it’s blogs, Digg, or Time Magazine), and I’ll have no memory of what I’ve just consumed.

Allentrepreneur: Perhaps the greatest roadblock to getting started is fear of failure. How have you dealt with this issue?

Rob Walling: Every time I’ve launched I feel fear. But it gets easier the more you do it.

In the early days it took me a long time to do anything risky. So it would take me 8 hours to write a blog post that should have taken 2 because I was so concerned that everything had to be perfect. But over time you get get better, faster, and realize that tiny errors don’t matter. It’s much more important to produce quickly, because it gives you a greater chance of success.

You’ve heard the expression “fail fast”? If you don’t learn to do this you will never do anything worthwhile. You will never get past that fifth blog post, or finish that web application you’ve been working on for 6 months.

Allentrepreneur: Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs out there?

Rob Walling: Definitely. Here is something I cover in the Academy:

Don’t become an entrepreneur because you have a product idea or to get rich. Figure out your goals before you get started.

A few years ago I found myself stressed out and wondering why I couldn’t get a startup off the ground. Then I realized a true 70-hour a week startup wouldn’t work with the life I wanted to lead (married with a child). So I had to completely shift my paradigm of what “success” is by defining my goals, which were to have time and location flexibility, work less than full-time and maintain a full-time income.

Once I figured that out I was able to make it happen within a year.